MANILA - Authorities on Saturday said participants in this year's Traslacion of the Black Nazarene will be barred from walking in front of the carriage to speed up the religious procession, Manila's longest and most attended.
Police and members of the Armed Forces will be stationed in "every corner" of the procession route to ensure that devotees - who usually flock in droves to touch the Black Nazarene - will not block the carriage's path, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Police Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas told reporters.
"Para mapigilan ang mga tao na mag-rush sa harap dahil dun bumabagal, dun nakakaistorbo," he said.
(We will do this to stop people from rushing in front of the carriage because that slows down the procession, which hampers the flow.)
"Ang prusisyon, dapat sa likod ka sumunod para mas malinis siya. Puwede sumampa at magpunas... [Pero] Ang sampahan lang ay sa likod, wala na sa harap," he said.
(In a procession, devotees should walk behind the carriage to make it more orderly. They can still climb... but they can only do it from behind, not in front of the carriage.)
Authorities will also put barbed wire on the beams of the Ayala Bridge to prevent devotees from climbing its metal frames.
"Mga kabataan ngayon, umaakyat 'yan dun. Baka mahulog at may mga tao sa baba, marami pa ang madisgrasya. Prevention po ito," Sinas said.
(Youngsters would usually climb the bridge. This is to prevent accidents should they fall off while people are passing through.)
Container vans will be placed on portions of Roxas Boulevard, Burgos Avenue, Finance Road, Taft Avenue and Ayala Boulevard- areas where the Black Nazarene will not pass through, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) spokesperson Celine Pialago said.
Some 1,000 MMDA personnel will also be deployed to the capital city to help in this year's Traslacion, she said.
Street sweepers and road clearing group members will also be positioned at the tail end of the procession to immediately clear roads of trash and clutter, she said.
At least 2.5 million people are expected to participate in the procession, one of Manila's oldest Catholic traditions, but Traslacion 2020 is expected to be quicker than last year's 21-hour event, officials said.
"Inaasahan lang na mas maikli, makabalik sana nang mas maaga sa Quiapo [ang Traslacion]," said Fr. Douglas Badong, vicar of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene in Quiapo, home of the 400-year-old ebony statue of Jesus Christ.
(We expect that the procession will be shorter, that it could return to Quiapo early.)
"Pero hindi pa namin matantya kung anong oras makabalik kasi siyempre minsan nakadepende rin sa attitude ng mga namamasan," the priest earlier told radio DZMM.
(But we still can't estimate by what time it could be back because that depends on the devotees.)
- report from Bianca Dava, ABS-CBN News